EXP has been building, refurbishing and maintaining hydroelectric generating stations in Quebec with more than 300 renewable energy projects completed since 1970. Our energy teams have tackled many challenges over the years, building lasting relationships with our clients and colleagues along the way. Together, our expertise works to benefit the hundreds of thousands of people connected to Hydro-Québec’s vast network. This synergy continues to drive our energy teams, and we can certainly sense it when Stéphan Mongeon, engineer and project manager at our Montreal office, talks about the role EXP is playing in the project to refurbish the Rapide-Blanc hydroelectric generating station in Quebec’s Mauricie region.
Collaboration and coordination
Commissioned in 1934, the Rapide-Blanc station has been a very powerful source of clean, renewable and reliable energy, injecting 204 megawatts into Hydro-Québec’s network. In December 2018, Hydro-Québec gave our team the immensely complex job of completely rehabilitating the station. And we do mean completely. The work will continue through 2026 and include replacing all electrical and mechanical systems, repairing several architectural elements, renovating the control room and replacing six generating units. Once the refurbishment is complete, the energy generated by the station will climb to 243 megawatts.
Coordinating the work of all teams – our own as well as those from the Régis Côté architecture firm and Hydro-Québec – ensuring the uninterrupted generation of hydroelectricity throughout, including during the control room renovations, proved to be a challenge.
“The control room is the beating heart of the entire station and has to remain operational at all times,” Stéphan explains. “On top of that, we have the responsibility of constantly coordinating with our colleagues in civil and structural engineering. For example, if we have to feed wiring through walls, floors or ceilings to install electrical or mechanical equipment, we have to check with those teams to make sure the building structure can bear the weight of the equipment.”
Teamwork and technology
This sort of multidisciplinary project requires constant communication. To ensure ease of collaboration, we customized a 3D design platform so that everyone could work together, looking at the same model at the same time, no matter their location.
“Our energy teams have been using 3D energy modeling on different projects for many years, but this was the first time we combined three distinct software tools, which enabled us to integrate seven disciplines,” says Stéphan. “When the pandemic hit and we all began working remotely, we were happy to have this shared model to help us see the work of all the different discipline teams in real time and keep the project on track. We also owe the project’s success to EXP’s teams and resources, for providing us with the systems and the support we needed to keep the work going.”
Teamwork and cohesiveness are key elements of the project, according to Stéphan. “I am very proud of our teams, who have shown such dedication in their work on this project these past two years, including more than a year in exceptional circumstances. At EXP, our people are our strength. The synergy that we have worked to create, and continues to drive our teams, is what allows us to accomplish great things for our communities, no matter what difficulties we encounter along the way.”
*Originally published in EXP’s Expresso: Shaping Tomorrow